Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fadiouth, the Island Made of Shells

At the far end of Petite Côte, a stretch of coast in Senegal, lies a sleepy fishing village called Joal-Fadiouth. Joal lies on the mainland, while Fadiouth, linked by a narrow 400-meter wooden foot bridge, lies on an island build entirely of seashells. For more than a century its inhabitants have been harvesting molluscs, scooping the meat out and using the empty shells to make their little island. The seashells have accumulated over many years and held together by the roots of mangroves, reeds and giant baobabs. Heaps of empty shells lie everywhere, on streets and building facades and on trinkets sold by street hawkers.

Fadiouth is known mainly for its cemetery, which is also made out of shells. The residents of Fadiouth Island are mostly Christian, but they also have a significant Islamic population, and the close-knit community takes immense pride in an atmosphere of religious tolerance.

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